I had the privilege of listening to our pastor a few weeks ago when he delivered a line that struck me, hard. I’ve been chewing on it for over a month now.
He was describing a recent trip he’d taken to Africa and the feelings of despair he was struggling with. Looking around at all the poverty and suffering, he found himself asking God, “What’s the point? What can we even do in the face of this?”
“You’re looking at the wrong kingdom.”
Wow. Guilty as charged. My focus, it seems, is almost constantly on this world and the things therein, especially in this season of change. To paraphrase C.S. Lewis, I feel I’m finding my place in this world, when really, it’s finding its place in me.
I spend so much time mired down in my unfulfilled wants and perceived problems. I have a perfect, front row view of my situation, yet I’m blind to the greatness of God.
I worry and stress and beg and pout and complain to seemingly no end, when all the while, this world is really just the waiting room. It’s not the end of the journey and it’s certainly not home.
But so many of us – myself very much included – have allowed ourselves to fall in love with the world. We’re entangled by its entertainments and sparkles. But James 4:4 tells us this:
“Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”
That terrifies me! I don’t want to be the enemy of God. But that’s the choice. We can’t serve two masters.
Some people argue that a loving God would never send people to hell. What they don’t understand is that God isn’t sending those people there, it’s simply the alternative. Hell is the utter absence of God’s presence, the opposite of heaven. There is no middle ground. If a person doesn’t want God, then that’s the only other place for them to go.
It’s the same this side of eternity. We can either love God or the world. We can focus on His kingdom, or ours. And I’m terrified of loving the world more than God.
But I’m often even more terrified of letting go of the world. If you’ve ever had the privilege of reading Calvin and Hobbes, perhaps you’ve come across the few where Calvin pretends gravity has no effect on him and he grasps desperately for something to hold onto as he floats away into the sky.
I think it’s a lot like that for Christians. When we decide to follow the Lord, He begins to gently pull us away from the earth and it sometimes feels like we’re falling into the sky. It’s a scary feeling because we know that the sky exists but we don’t really know what crashing into with entail. The ground is safe and sturdy, or so it seems. But the sky? Putting ourselves completely in God’s hands? It’s a scary feeling.
Until you actually let go. There is such a thing as Godly fear. Fear of loving the world above Him is a Godly fear. Fear of letting go of the world is not. That’s a lie from the enemy that says we can’t trust the maker of the sky itself to hold us together and give us each breath (despite the fact that none of us would even be here if He weren’t already doing that).
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
Letting go of the world is only frightening for the span of time it takes to send the command from your brain to your fingers. After that, following God wholeheartedly is the most freeing, exhilarating, and fulfilling thing you could ever do. Living for His Kingdom, looking at His Kingdom, is the best way to live.
I’m going to open my hands and give Him control, and by His grace, hopefully I won’t snatch at any tree branches as I float by.